Balancing ambient light with wireless TTL slave.

Discussion in 'Lighting Forum' started by Dave in Wales, Jan 17, 2014.

  1. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
    I’ve just started dabbling in RC wireless flash for macro with the 60mm.

    I’m aware the FL300-R may not be the best way to go but I want to keep it simple and light, hence no sync cord.

    Camera E-M1
    RC set to on.
    ‘A’ set to TTL…..this can be set between plus/minus 5 stops.
    Channel 1
    Onboard flash set to ‘M’….this can be set between 1:1 & 1/128.
    ‘X’ sync 1/60
    Aperture priority se to f5.6.

    Flash FL300-R
    Off- camera with diffuser in place.
    RC set at ‘A’.

    Coming from Nikon where it all seemed to work as if by magic, the Oly system seems a bit on the trial/error side, or am I missing something.

    I have had a degree of success lighting the subject between 1:1 and 1: 4 but cannot get the balance with ambient correct.

    Are there some rules or is it just trial and error, a tutorial would be nice.
  2. christofp

    christofp Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 21, 2012
    Maybe you ran into the same issue I had some months ago:

    If the master is much closer to the scene than the remote slave, the master flash contributes to the overall exposure even when it is switched "off". As a side efect, all pictures get underexposed and it is hard to predict how much FEC is needed to compensate this.

    I wrote my experience here:
    • Like Like x 2
  3. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2013
    Higher ISO or wider aperture is going to get you more bright background. But you are right, Nikon (and Fuji) seem the have near magic flash/ambient balancing.
  4. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
    Many thanks for that, I tried wading through the whole thread some time ago, but I failed to catch your point, it was me, not you.

    Are you saying in so many words that the solution to Olympus off-camera wireless TTL flash is to fit a "Metz IR bracket"

    What I can't quite get my head around is the on-board flash that triggers the slave, it has so many variables....
    On/off, but even when it's off it's on.
    TTL, adjustable to plus/minus 5 stops.
    Manual, adjustable from 1:1 to 1:128 power.

    After giving it some thought, the wireless side that is, I may just buy a TTL sync cable and hope that that solves the issue.

    Come back Nikon I-TTL all is forgiven, it was all so simple.
  5. Gary5

    Gary5 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 15, 2014
    Hello, where did you buy the Metz IR bracket? I emailed the Metz US parts department, but they did not reply.

    I own the Nikon version, but there is no way to attach it on E-M1.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. ThomD

    ThomD Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 1, 2013
    SF Bay Area
    The IR filter bracket comes with the 15MS-1 ring flash.

    You can probably get the result with an IR pass filter. Something like the Lee 87 3"x3" filter should work. It blocks visible light while allowing IR through.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
  8. flash

    flash Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 29, 2010
    1 hour from Sydney Australia.
    Real Name:
    Why is your master set to manual? Do you want it as part of the exposure? If not it should be set to off.

    Any on camsra flash is going to dominate a shot at macro distances.

    • Like Like x 2
  9. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Real Name:
    What Gordon said... for starters I'd turn the on-camera flash to off so that it's a commander flash only. It'll still impart some light into the exposure because it's so close at a macro distance, but it'll be a lot less.

    Other thoughts, in no particular order:

    * You can try blocking some of the forward spill of the light with a bounce or diffuser card, especially if your off-camera flash is nearby it will likely still pick up signals even if not direct line of sight.

    * Nikon has i-TTL and i-TTL BL, which balances for the background more, like a "fill" TTL instead of flash dominating the exposure. That may be another factor as well in why you noticed different results with Nikon,.

    * If you're looking to balance more with ambient, you probably need to use manual mode or exposure compensation to adjust for more ambient light. If you're using a fixed ISO at 200 and f/5.6 then there's only so low the shutter speed is going to go. Try taking shots without the flash and see how much ambient is coming in. Figure out where you want the ambient, which may require upping the ISO, and then adjust the flash from there with your flash exposure comp as needed.
    • Like Like x 3
  10. photo_owl

    photo_owl Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 8, 2013

    1. If you want to balance ambient with TTL and A mode; you have to make sure you have flash exposure compensation +- camera exposure compesation set in the menu, otherwise it just delivers the same looking shot. Much much easier is to put the camera in M, dial in the settings you want for the ambient light, set the flash as you have and let it handle the subject exposure - fire. Job done - no trial and error. Either way with the E-M1 on defaut settings you also have the advantage of the ambient being WYSIWYG. Couldn't be easier.
    2. Shooting macro the lens hood normally shields the subject from the control flash - never had an issue (but understand the technical aspects being suggested). If you are paranoid about it just stick a piece of IR filter film on the controller. You don't mention what setting you have it on but Low is pretty low...
    3. Don't understand 'onboard flash set to M and can be set....etc - if it's in RC On there are no options to do anything outside the flash control screen which gives you 3 control mode settings - Low, Med, High..However, I only ever have the flash set to Fill In so only gave the Auto setting in A mode a quick look (and ran trials) but still couldn't find these settings.
    4. Having X sync set to 1/60th seems a little limiting, especially if using daylight, and may well prevent the camera doing what you want. In the same way, what is your lower limit set to? In A mode this can create problems unless you have Auto ISO enabled to provide the camera with a means to provide the exposure compensation you are looking for.

    Typing this and running tests at the same time, I have just managed to heat my sugar syrup to 220 degrees (black caramel) rather than the 106 I wanted for my baba......there goes a pound of sugar :frown:

    Sync cord will simply duplicate the action of the RC flash - it's the rest of the settings that matter not how you connect it.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
    Thanks for that, sorry about the sugar, may I ask what/who is 'baba'.

    What would you recommend as settings for Flash X-Sync and Flash Slow- Limit.
  12. arch stanton

    arch stanton Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 25, 2012
    Real Name:
    Hi Dave, I think (not checked!) these settings are ignored in manual. I found balancing flash a royal pain in the arse until I started using manual mode and TTL flash, which is much simpler.

    Set the aperture to the level of DOF you want, then just set the shutter speed to the background exposure you want. The TTL will take care of the main subject automatically - use TTL exp comp to darken/lighten subject - if you can't make it bright enough (or don't want to dazzle people) bump up the ISO.

    Unintended consequence - the Flash Slow limit affects the min shutter speed the camera selects in ALL camera modes (except M or S), including when the flash is off.
    Useful in P or A modes if you want to freeze daylight action - bump it up to 1/200 etc but don't forget to reset it for evening!

    Not sure on this but I think X-sync is the default shutter speed it'll use flash-on in P/A/Scene modes.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. photo_owl

    photo_owl Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 8, 2013
    As Malc has commented, the issue is when shooting in A mode you are restricting the camera's ability to adjust the exposure as you are requiring. With 1/60th and 1/30th in A you are setting the aperture and ISO then giving the camera the choice of 1/60th -> 1/30th as a shutter speed. Providing this is lower than the correct exposure the camera will just use the flash to make up the difference so the subject will be correctly exposed but there's little scope for the ambient balancing!

    It's not a question of right settings (in my mind) but if you are using that mode I would certainly have them as wide as possible 1/320 - and the low according to subject and use of tripod etc for any particular flash shot there will be one, or at most 2, right settings - but they will vary!

    killing 2 birds with one stone - here's 'baba'


    one shot OOC via my phone to flickr to here using 2 guns TTL, +-0.0, 1 group via RC and the camera viewfinder - M mode, fill flash, aperture for dof (background is only required as contex) f4.5 and then the exposure of the background judged from the viewfinder (in M it's wysiwyg) in this case 1/160th was fine with the ISO that I had last used....

    damm sight quicker and easier than making a baba! :)
  14. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
    Ah....So that's a we calls it a Rum Baba.

    Thank you all for your input, I'm going to have to read all and inwardly digest.